The Best of Me

The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks Read Free Book Online Page B

Book: The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks Read Free Book Online
Authors: Nicholas Sparks
Tags: nicholas sparks
suspicions. She’d preferred the uncertainty, if only because it allowed her to remember him the way he used to be. Sometimes, though, she wondered what he felt when he thought of that year they spent together, or if he ever marveled at what they’d shared, or even whether he thought of her at all.


    D awson’s flight landed in New Bern hours after the sun had begun its steady descent toward the western horizon. In his rental car, he crossed the Neuse River into Bridgeton and turned onto Highway 55. On either side of the highway, farmhouses were set back from the road and interspersed with the occasional tobacco barn that had fallen into ruin. The flat landscape shimmered in the afternoon sunlight, and it seemed to him that nothing had changed since he’d left so many years ago, maybe not even in a hundred years. He passed through Grantsboro and Alliance, Bayboro and Stonewall, towns even smaller than Oriental, and it struck him that Pamlico County was like a place lost in time, nothing but a forgotten page in an abandoned book.
    It was also home, and though many of the memories were painful, it was here where Tuck had befriended him and it was here where he’d met Amanda. One by one, he began to recognize landmarks from his childhood, and in the silence of the car he wondered who he might have become had Tuck and Amanda never entered his life. But more than that, he wondered how differently his life might have turned out had Dr. David Bonner not stepped out for a jog on the night of September 18, 1985.
    Dr. Bonner had moved to Oriental in December of the previousyear with his wife and two young children. For years, the town had been without a physician of any kind. The previous physician had retired to Florida in 1980, and Oriental’s Board of Commissioners had been trying to replace him ever since. There was a desperate need, but despite the numerous incentives that the town offered, few decent candidates were interested in moving to what was essentially a backwater. As luck would have it, Dr. Bonner’s wife, Marilyn, had grown up in the area and, like Amanda, was considered to be almost royalty. Marilyn’s parents, the Bennetts, grew apples, peaches, grapes, and blueberries in a massive orchard on the outskirts of town, and after he finished his residency, David Bonner moved to his wife’s hometown and opened his own practice.
    He was busy from the beginning. Tired of traveling the forty minutes to New Bern, patients flocked to his office, but the doctor was under no illusion that he’d ever become rich. It simply wasn’t possible in a small town in a poor county, no matter how busy the practice was and despite the family connections. Though no one else in town knew it, the orchard had been heavily mortgaged, and on the day David had moved to town, his father-in-law had hit him up for a loan. But even after he’d helped his in-laws with money, the cost of living was low enough to allow him to buy a four-bedroom colonial overlooking Smith Creek, and his wife was thrilled to be back home. In her mind, Oriental was an ideal place to raise children, and for the most part she was right.
    Dr. Bonner loved the outdoors. He surfed and swam; he bicycled and ran. It was common for people to see him jogging briskly up Broad Street after work, eventually heading past the curve on the outskirts of town. People would honk or wave, and Dr. Bonner would nod without breaking stride. Sometimes, after a particularly long day, he wouldn’t start until just before dark, and on September 18, 1985, that was exactly what happened. He left the house just as dusk was settling over the town. ThoughDr. Bonner didn’t know it, the roads were slick. It had rained earlier that afternoon, steadily enough to raise the oil from the macadam but not hard enough to wash it away.
    He started out on his usual route, which took about thirty minutes, but that night he never made it home. By the time the moon had risen, Marilyn started to get

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